Afterimages (鬼影) Movie Review | by tiffanyyong.com
Recommended Audience: Fans of Mike Kasem, Jeremy Meyer, Caren Utino, Michael Kwah, Olivia Stiefel, Kevin LeGrange, Daniel Jenkins, Vincent Tee, Adeline Pang, Melissa Faith Yeo and Horror/Supernatural movie fans
Afterimages (Horror) Movie Synopsis
AFTERIMAGES, a collection of five short horror stories that unfold when a group of students burn paper effigy video cameras for the wandering spirits during the ghost month and they receive films in return.
Ghost Pool Leg (鬼拉脚) Viewer Rating: 4/5 ****
Xiao Bao Bao (小宝宝) Viewer Rating: 3.5/5 ***
Skin Deep Viewer Rating: 2.5/5 **
Rekindling Viewer Rating: 3/5 **
Realizing they need more footage to complete a feature length film, they create more paper cameras and burn another one. Another 35mm film canister arrives in the ashes. This time however, the fifth film is in bad condition. A label reads “Warning: Extreme…” BURNT OFFERINGS, the most horrifying and dangerous – it is about them.
Burnt Offerings Viewer Rating: 2/5 *
Afterimages (Horror) Viewer Rating: 3/5 ***
Afterimages (Horror) Movie Review:
First of all, many thanks to Mythopolis for the premiere invite and the success of the event. I guess this is the first movie where I have so many friends acting in it. It was not easy for me, albeit interesting to be reviewing a film where I know so many of the actors.
Ghost Pool Leg (鬼拉脚)
This is a very common practice in Singapore – not to swim at night, and especially so during the lunar seventh month. This is the most perfect story of the five. Richard Wylie (Robert Warnock) a character who challenged the lunar seventh month myth by swimming at night, is the perfect example for most parents to show their children and warn them against the swimming at night. The swimming scene done by the midnight swimmers were taken beautifully, so beautiful that it was easily to scare the audience as we would forget to brace ourselves for the scare. Veteran actor Laurence Pang took the role of the security guard, left me an impression with his last scene…
Xiao Bao Bao (小宝宝)
Xiao Bao Bao is a “logical” story where the witness of a suicide might get nightmares and trauma. Aside from the unnecessary scene where Amy break off with her boyfriend, the whole story was pretty smooth and well-taken. I like the part where the camera (Go-Pro?) was placed on the rotating fan to build the suspense. There were two things which me and my friend highlighted after watching the film: Why did the “ghost” scare Amy with the bloodied face if she wanted Amy to do her favour (this reminded me of the Ghost Whisperer), while I don’t understand why she continued staying at home after being scared by the spirits. Won’t it be our first instinct to get out of the house?
I was once scared by a CCTV clip which went viral on Facebook, thus when the story started with the CCTV video, I was actually scared. But things go a bit awry later on. Skin Deep focused on a mysterious woman Yasmin (Adeline Pang) who hide a secret, despite the great acting from her (as well as the lift passengers Harrison (Mike Kasem), Helen (Susan Tordoff) and Henry (Daniel Jenkins)), the way the story of the bomoh needles was brought into the picture was a tad too forced. Telling secrets so dark that most will bring to their deathbeds to strangers is just so weird, not to say how it took an asthmatic girl with an overly aggressive friend to get the story going. I was disappointed how it had no direct link to the CCTV (and wondered where the mobile video Romesh (Sylvester Pillay) secretly took went).
Kudos to the scene where Yasmin had to cut her own face to dig out the golden needle (but I was wondering where the blood went…). I really like Adeline Pang’s acting, but I wonder if the two stories will be any different if she had exchanged her role with Melissa Yeo to become Amy Tan in Xiao Bao Bao, as Adeline will most probably be able to bring out that role well and Melissa (somehow) fit the role of “beautiful + mysterious” lady more.
Rekindling is, by far, the story with the best cast. Veteran actor Vincent Tee played the role of guilty and sad Hok Leng to a T. The strong contrast of sullen Hok Leng (Vincent Tee) and cheerful yet sarcastic Lee Seng (Gim Goh) made the popular murder story enjoyable. With his slight Singaporean accent, Lee Seng (Gim Goh) is most probably many people’s favourite character in Afterimages (Yes, including me!). Together with the China wife “Anna Mei” (Julie Ng), both of them provided the audience with some comic relief from all the sudden scaring and ghostly images. I was hoping the ghost will be acted by the same person, but I guess it will be more funny than scary if it’s “Anna Mei” acting…
The five students Derrick (Jeremy Meyer), Tess Ling (Caren Utino), Deuce (Kevin Lagrange), Cameron (Olivia Stiefel) and Rylee (Michael Kwah) aka aspiring film makers were the characters used to frame and link the various stories together. I overheard some audience commenting how the film could easily do away with the characters and it would be nicer without the redundant final story. I had to admit that I was a little disappointed with the characters’ emotional transition. There were choppy parts here and there, with one of the girls behaving weirdly (possessed?) in the middle of the film, and suddenly finding some stuff in the house they were staying in and suddenly informing the rest normally. The fearless and almost brainless dabble with supernatural beings made me wonder if they were really aspiring film makers. I believe every film maker should have the common decency to show respect to the unknown.
The 5 characters were not really developed properly to give the audience an impact. There was a part where one of the five suddenly went missing, and I was like, erm, how did he look like again? Similarly, for the two girls Tess Ling and Cameron, they look somewhat similar with different hairstyles. The filler scenes in between stories become repetitive after a while. I guess what spoiled the final story was the poorly done “fire” and “breaking of the doors”.
Despite the nit-picking, I like how the director used various shooting angles and styles for each story, portraying each story (as well as the Singapore cityscape) in a different light. The underwater scenes, the CCTV angles, the familar rotating of the fans was able to amplify the horror and heighten the tension of the film. If you notice, there would be a moth seen near the end in the stories, an insect often said to be the evolving of the deceased who had returned to visit. This are little thoughtful details which add on to the local “Singapore flavour” and made Afterimages an interesting horror film.
I’m happy and impressed that Tony Kern is able to turn the local Singapore news and myths into a decent horror film way better the Hong Kong horror films which I’ve reviewed. I believe the impact of the film will be stronger (and scarier!) if the movie was out a month earlier during the lunar 7th month (Chinese’s annual Hungry Ghost Festival) instead. Do catch the movie which is shown in the Cathay cinemas!
Do You Know?
The story “Xiao Bao Bao” The incident happened exactly to Kern, who was the first witness of a suicide jumper at the apartment block where he lived. “For days and weeks after the incident, I was obsessed with what had happened. I wanted to know everything about the woman who had jumped, who she was, why did she do it, who was her family? I talked to neighbours and asked strangers in the condo if they knew her or her family. I even went up to the apartment where she lived in search of answers.”
Casting calls were made on Facebook and it was opened to all territories. Actors were given a script for the role they were interested in, and they had to record a short introduction about themselves and submit a performance of the character they chose, and send video link to the producers.
The casting call received very good response from over from all over the world, including USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, France and Taiwan. The producers selected the best performances and the cast of the wraparound was an eclectic combination of American, Singaporean-Chinese, Brazilian-Japanese, Swiss-Australian and French-Korean.
If you’ve seen the movie, do let me know what you think of the film in the comment section below. If you agree/disagree with my review, feel free to comment and let me know! Follow me on Twitter/Instagram @tiffanyyongwt for future movie reviews, as well as other lifestyle reviews. 🙂